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The End (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 13, 2006

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Editorial Reviews Review

Picking up from the final pages of the Pentultimate Peril, this farewell installment to the ridiculously (and deservedly!) popular A Series of Unfortunate Events places our protagonists right where we last left them: on a large, wooden boat in the middle of the ocean, trapped with their nemesis Count Olaf, who has armed himself with a helmet-full of deadly Medusoid Mycelium.

The situation quickly and--this being the Baudelaires--predictably deteriorates. Violet, Klaus, and Sunny find themselves tossed in a storm so terrible that our beloved narrator spends four pages describing how he cannot describe it. From this point on, fans of the series' smarty-pants wordplay and acrobatic narrative can rest assured that they're in for more of the same (and how) in this 368-page finale, and Daniel Handler's deadpan Snicket continues to tutor a generation in self-referential humor (including one particularly funny bit regarding three very short men carrying a large, flat piece of wood, painted to look like a living room). Snicket notes, of course, that if you read the entire series, "your only reward will be 170 chapters of misery in your library and countless tears in your eyes."

There's one big question, though, for anyone who's made it through "the thirteenth chapter of the thirteenth volume in this sad history": is the final book a fitting end? That question is probably best-answered by one of The End's most oft-repeated phrases: It depends on how you look at it. Those looking for conclusive resolution to the series' many, many mysteries may be disappointed, although some big questions do get explicit answers. Not surprisingly for a work so deliberately labyrinthine, though, even the absence of an answer can be sort of an answer--and reaction to The End can be something of a Rorschach test for readers. Or, as Lemony Snicket says, "Perhaps you don’t know yet what the end really means." --Paul Hughes

From Booklist

After a singularly bad beginning, the Baudelaire orphans, Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, have finally reached the end.The question is, will Book the Thirteenth in A Series of Unfortunate Events meet the expectations of the series' myriad fans? Snicket might put it a somewhat different way: if end simply means to cease, the answer is yes. If, however, end means to complete, the answer is most assuredly no--because though Snicket neatly clips numerous threads in the tragic saga, he leaves others literally fluttering in the breeze. As with the previous books, this one begins where its predecessor left off, with the orphans and the villainous Count Olaf afloat on dangerous open seas. When a storm blows their craft ashore, kindly islanders welcome the orphans, but Olaf is an outcast. Have the children finally found the longed-for "last safe place on earth?" Not so fast . . . before long, they are once again scrambling to avert disaster and death ("Kikbucit," as Sunny puts it when a couple of characters are terminated). If possible, this title is even more preposterous than others in the series (the children help an old friend give birth), as well as considerably longer than some. But frequent references to the other adventures will send Snicket fans back to previous books to delight once again in the idiosyncratic characters, the wry humor, and the wordplay, which has surely increased their vocabulary tenfold. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 1370L (What's this?)
  • Series: A Series of Unfortunate Events, Book 13 (Book 13)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; First Edition edition (October 1, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064410161
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064410168
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 1.3 x 7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (457 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #10,812 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lemony Snicket claims he was nowhere near the scene of the crime. He is the author of several other unpleasant stories, including those in the bestselling A Series of Unfortunate Events and The Lump of Coal.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 41 people found the following review helpful By D. Bass on June 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
If you are interested in book reviews that have happy endings, you would be better off reading some other review. Because this review, like so many others, is more likely to make you hide in your cellar than prompt you to give your credit card number to complete strangers to order a copy of "The End."

Unfortunately, like other series of books that start out splendidly, a word which here means "with interesting characters and fascinating plots," the last book in the chronicle of the Baudelaire's lives ends not with a bang but a whimper. The phrase "not with a bang but a whimper" was penned by a man named Thomas, who was a close associate of mine until he left one day for New Guinea in a generically-fueled speed boat, all because of a note left in a cookie jar by a hotel concierge. The exact meaning of the phrase is ambiguous to some and downright confusing to others, but to my way of thinking, the best manner in which to use "not with a bang but a whimper" is in reference to an entertaining series of books that end not with plot resolution but with more unanswered questions. Unfortunately, that is how "The End" ends - with more unfortunate happenings that leave the unfortunate reader with the unfortunate sensation of having unfortunately wasted his or her time reading an unfortunate ending, unfortunately.

That brings me to a problem that plagues the whole series of unfortunate events, and that is the repetitive nature of the books, a word which here means "Lemony Snicket deems it necessary to repeat the same sentence structure and subtle jokes ad infinitum throughout the series.
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27 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Sara B on April 5, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I realize it's easy to be a critic, not being a "literary" person myself, but I feel this book can legitimately be called a disappointment nonetheless--even by me. I'll keep it as short as I can.

First, I feel the quality of the series began to decline at about the halfway point; not sure if the author set 13 as an appealing goal and just ran out of material before getting there, or what. The fact is, the narrative style, so original and funny to begin with, wore itself out, and what had previously been a refreshing voice (with which the reader was only too happy to chuckle and shake her head), became dull, predictable, and annoying.

Secondly, I realize that the author seems to have intended a "real" life lesson to come out of these satirical "fake morality tales," but the buildup into that conclusion is shaky, poorly planned, and feels contrived. What I mean is, the books begin as fairly transparent sketches of a villainous (and funny) Count Olaf, and the three clever orphans who escape him only to fall into difficulty again very soon. That's a clear outline, and, while old as the hills and somewhat unimaginative, still useful. But then the author seems to devolve into an unplanned and somewhat preachy exploration of existentialism by way of much equivocation in character description/motivation and muddying of the plotline.

Finally, and here is the end of my review of The End (to borrow an obnoxious habit of the author's that pops up in several places in this book ...), the utter lack of resolution of the mysteries posed previously in the series does serve to drive home the point that we (readers, orphans, humans, whatever) do not know everything there is to know, and hence judgment is best practiced warily if at all.
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63 of 80 people found the following review helpful By E. Schmidt on November 16, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Bottom Line: Fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events will most likely be disappointed by this book. "The End" does for series what the movie did for the franchise; and that's not good.

Before I get into the negatives, first let me state the positives. While not as good as in earlier books, the writing in "The End" is clever and still has the trademark Snicket whit and wordplay, although the jokes seem forced and repetitive - but I guess it all depends on how you look at it. Also, the final revelation in Chapter 14 (yes, there is an additional chapter at the end of the book) gives careful readers a lot to ponder. As with all the other books in the series, this is a fun and fast read and, even though there are major problems, I must admit that I still had a good time reading this book. That's about it for the positives.

Now for the downside. First off, you will not find resolution to many of the series' mysteries in "The End": No information on the contents or location of the sugar bowl, nothing more about the purpose of VFD or its schism, nothing about the fates of the villains and volunteers from the fire at the Hotel Denouement (or the hidden library), not a word about the "man with a beard but no hair" and the "woman with hair but no beard," not a peep about the possible survival of one of the Baudelaire parents, etc, etc, etc. The problem isn't that "The End" doesn't explicitly resolve these issues for us (did anyone actually expect that it would?), it's that the layers and layers of intrigue that have been building up for years are largely ignored. The true unfortunate event would be if the series were to end like this, with nothing more to bring closure to these outstanding mysteries.
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